US retail stores are closing at the fastest rate and most dramatic volumes ever. At the same time, the affiliate channel is driving increased foot traffic, higher engagement than other channels, improved sales and stronger customer retention. There are four important strategies marketers should adopt to leverage this success and drive high-value in-store sales through affiliate marketing.
#1 Advocate for Affiliate’s Offline Influence
A whopping 77% of Gen Z, a “digital native” group that holds $44 billion in annual spending power, still prefers to purchase in-store, according to studies by Mintel and Accenture. Then there’s Amazon: the retail giant’s bold move into brick and mortar with the purchase of Whole Foods signals that it can’t rely on e-commerce alone. How can marketers take advantage of these realities? Engage with affiliate and high-reach publishers to capitalize on this digital-to-offline influence and shopping behavior.
Analysis of affiliate performance, combined with our first-party buyer profile data, shows that affiliate shoppers who purchase offline generate 30% higher annual revenue than non-affiliate shoppers. In one scenario, a women’s apparel retailer experienced up to 50% incremental revenue contribution from affiliate partners after it prioritized site-to-store strategies. This demonstrates the value of affiliate—champion this within your organization to gain support and investment.
#2 Leverage Affiliate’s Flexible Cost Structure
Affiliate is a highly nimble channel that can flex to dynamic cost structures, margins by product category, new customer acquisition vs. repeat purchase costs, and factors in purchase return to final Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)/Return on Investment (ROI). It’s the only digital channel with this flexibility, which means a truer ROI and allows alignment of margins at scale. To boost in-store traffic via affiliate, marketers can increase the weight of investment for in-store, high margin offers/shoppers vs. that of online, low-margin offers/shoppers, resulting in stronger efficiencies per the value of those respective shopper segments.
#3 Build a Connected, Collaborative Team
Align the retail in-store team and e-commerce business team around the same goals and it will create greater cost efficiencies, accelerated growth, and higher potential for brand loyalty. Too often these business units are managed and measured in silos. E-commerce might foot the bill for in-store revenue generated, yet the credit could go to stores, resulting in dips in e-commerce ROAS, limited e-commerce budgets, and missed opportunities for customer engagement and sales. When you work together from the beginning, it opens the door for cross-unit investment, unified measurement, and cohesive strategies.
#4 Demonstrate Results with Elevated KPIs and Measurement
The unprecedented use of marrying customer profile data (comprised of online and offline transactions) with affiliate transactions enables marketers to put their robust data to work, similar to other channels. In doing so, they gain more understanding of shopper value, partner value, and cross-device engagements within affiliate. These deeper customer insights elevate measurement beyond top-line revenue and ROAS and enable affiliate strategies to address various KPIs.
While it will require a combination of efforts to help traditional retail stores evolve, affiliate drives measured offline sales in significant ways. Employ these strategies to find success with your business.